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Celebrating the first year of learner drivers on motorways

Red learner driver car on road

Today marks one year since the rules changed to allow learner drivers to practice driving on motorways, with a driving instructor.

The changes were brought in to help give learner drivers the opportunity to get a broader driving experience before taking their driving test and improve their confidence driving on the motorway unsupervised.

Business as usual

By now, for many of you the prospect of taking a learner on the motorways may not seem that special anymore. In fact, it will probably be another key milestone to tick off for driving on high speed roads to prepare another learner for a lifetime of safe driving.

It’s a credit to the ADI industry that so many of you have taken this major change in your strides and adopted it as business as usual. There haven’t been any reported incidents involving learner drivers on motorway since the changes were brought in last June 2018. This didn’t come as a surprise to me given the professionalism of the industry and your drive to find ways to improve the standard of driving for learner drivers and help them be better prepared for a lifetime of safe driving.

Continued learning

When the change was launched last year, we highlighted some useful training for ADI's to go over before their first motorway lesson. If you missed it first time round, or want to remind yourself of the key points we recommend you look through element 3.1.4 of the national standard for driving cars as it covers what drivers need to be able to do and what they must know and understand.

Remember, any research, development or training you do in this area counts as continuing professional development.

We also worked with the National Associations Strategic Partnership (NASP) and Highways England to produce some guidance.

An ADI perspective

We asked for you to let us know what you thought about the changes, how you have implemented them, what your pupils thought and any challenges. Here are a few of your responses:

“Immediately the rules changed (and before) I discussed the benefits of having a motorway lesson. All of my previous test pupils have been very keen to have the opportunity to drive on the motorway.   Being in Cambridge, the M11 is not quite as notorious as the A14 but we have had lessons lasting 2 hours to ensure M25 experience as well.

“Feedback from the pupils has been 100% positive. Understanding the difference between a motorway and a dual carriageway us one thing, actually experiencing the difference is a superb opportunity.”

ADI in Cambridge

“In Hartlepool we are a good 30 minutes from the motorway but I have still been able to deliver over 20 separate lessons on the motorway. A1m to be precise.

Although this is not a smart motorway and I have been unable to let my pupils experience this side of the experience, all my pupils have expressed increased confidence at the thought of journeys involving motorways once they pass. All of them have also found the motorways much easier than the use of dual carriageways where more hazards tend to appear.

“All-in-all using the motorways has proven a rewarding and positive experience.”

ADI in Hartlepool

Looking ahead

The aim of allowing learners on motorways was to help reduce the number of novice drivers involved in incidents on high speed roads,  and we won’t have these figures until the 2018 casualty statistics are published later this year.

We should remind ourselves of why we wanted to allow learners on to motorways – they are after all amongst the safest of our roads. I think it important to remember the role an ADI has in helping a new driver in become a safer driver; encouraging learners to learn how to drive on a motorway with a professional instructor as part of their continuing lessons and development as a new driver.

6 months after the rules changed, guest author Finbar King told us a bit about his experience driving on the motorway for the first time. Finbar is AA president Edmund King’s son.

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  1. Comment by Joe Collins posted on

    Great move, motorway learning, now all we have to do is get turn in the road and left reverse round the corner back on the test, also get rid of that nonsical pull up on the right and I'll be happy.

    • Replies to Joe Collins>

      Comment by Dan. ADI posted on

      I agree. Bring back turn in the road. A much more useful manoeuvre that i still teach but think is a better judge of reversing skills. Also from my experience the examiners have differing opinions on what 2 car lengths is and I had a pupil fail because the examiner insisted she had not gone far enough when she had easily gone 3 car lengths.

    • Replies to Joe Collins>

      Comment by John Mills posted on

      I'm just glad they advised to keep doing TIR and LR, my students ask for it anyway. As for parking on the right, if your going to do that, (because a great number of drivers go on to drive delivery vans?), then the Right reverse should surely be included, the amount of van drivers I see either reversing out of turnings or making a complete pigs ear of it!

  2. Comment by Elaine Keatley , ATB posted on

    There’s no mention about motorcycle Atb’s and motorcycle instructors ?
    Only ADI ? Is it one rule for one and not the other ? It needs to be clearer .
    From what I read it does not include motorcycle instructors.
    Please give a answer to my question .
    Can motorcycle instructors take their learners On a motorway as well ?

  3. Comment by Rod Came posted on

    The plural of ADI is ADIs, there is no apostrophe.

    The ADIs and their clients who have a motorway within a reasonable distance are able to benefit from this long overdue permission. It is unfortunate that not all new drivers will take advantage of this experience, either because of the distance and/or cost involved, but it is a step in the right direction.

  4. Comment by John Mills posted on

    A positive boon in my opinion, taking students on the motorway in a sign-written car after passing was a nightmare, very often the student would come back after a month and seemed to want to show how awful they'd got at driving, or other motorway users seemed to think you had got lost or something and had no right to be on there, even without L plates it was seen as a learner's car, even had people in traffic ques banging on the windows threatening me!!!